Jim, my husband, wants me to write about love. But I am not sure where to begin. I could talk about all the people that I love, but that may embarrass them and me. I could say I love my family, but what does that indicate? If you were raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and decided to leave, then you probably have had a weird experience of love and family connection.

Denial of the person is how it works. Shunning is the process. It is unloving, unkind and probably unforgivable, yet hundreds of thousands of people experience the lack of family love because their relatives are part of a high control group.

By shunning, they somehow think their God will favour them and the shunned will feel so bad and sad that they will return to the flock. It does not work! Shunning breaks up families and the person shunning buries their true feelings in cult lingo.

I left in 1982.

The shunned have a choice; they can continue to love the real person and not the cult identity that they have adopted. That is my choice. I have noticed that when you offer love to cult relatives, some hate it. They want you to be what the leaders say you are, bitter, twisted and mentally diseased. With this kind of logic, it is best just to smile and enjoy every moment of freedom.

I understand how my family became embroiled. In the 1960’s, many people fell for the “Love Peace and Happiness,” promised by cults. Some groups were/are fairly benign and others more extreme. In my mother’s chosen cult, fear and guilt came before love – still does.

An article in the Vanderbilt Law Review indicates how cult “lies” start and how membership is maintained.

Cult recruiters… withhold from the prospective cultist the nature of the commitment expected, the procedures to be undergone, and the practices to be engaged in. This deception effectively destroys the possibility of a recruit’s giving informed consent to induction into the movement because the recruit lacks the knowledge necessary for an intelligent choice whether to join.”

“Cults discourage critical thought and choice, and bring to bear a variety of physical, physiological, and psychological techniques to induce conformity to a hierarchical system, acceptance of a complex ideology……” (1)

My mother was never told she would have to put distance between herself and her children and eventually shun, when she became friendly with her next door neighbour, who was skilled in the art of recruitment.

In the 1960’s my brother was led to believe he would never go to school, then he would never leave school, because we were living in the “last days.” He turned 57 this year. I sent him a card. I do not expect a reply.

The cult leaders argue they never gave a date when Armageddon was likely to destroy non believers, but a BBC recording and the organisation’s literature says otherwise.

I realise that I have written about the lack of love in this post. So to rectify that imbalance, I will mention what love is to me.

Love is sitting with Jim. Love is feeding my cat. Love is talking to my son, daughter and our extended family. Love is reading books. Love is writing. Love is art. Love is travel. Love is being with friends. Love is music. Love is eating. Love is reconciling.

Reconciliation seems to be happening for many, as families realise that groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses have nothing to do with love. To my amazement, in recent years, even members of my family have left and made contact with me. The edifice of the Watchtower organisation is crumbling and as it does, love is rising.

I just read this to Jim and he thinks I should also say, love is important for the continuation of the human race.

No argument there!

Oh and happy birthday Hitch!

1. When Religious Exercise Is Not Free: Deprogramming and the Constitutional Status of Coercively Induced Belief.” October, 1984, Vanderbilt Law Review, Richard Delgado